Stove Top Smoker - Any tips?
We have had a Cameron smoker for a few years, and use it outdoors on our gas grill,. We do this because we are afraid that the smell of smoke in my house might never come out of the fabric and furniture, even though it is supposedly made for stove top use. We use the little ground wood chips, (dry) -- usually a mix of hickory and/or mesquite and maple, and then cook salmon filtet, baby back ribs, or chicken pieces, and have gotten decent results. Dry rub and seasoning is a must, it seems. This isn't a real smoker, so we aren't looking for real BBQ, (and we can get that at no less than half a dozen places within a short distance from our home ) -- just a smoky flavor for a change of pace.
Has anyone else had any experience with these smokers, and if so -- what worked best for you, or what would you avoid doing again?
I've never used a smoker inside the house - mainly because I've got a Fast Eddies FC100 smoker that would choke the house and kill me with carbon monoxide poisoning.
But if you're looking for a little smoky flavor without all the smoke, consider the PolyScience Smoking Gun (www.polyscience.com). It's a little contraption that burns wood pieces and creates smoke - they even have a "gift pack" of wood sawdust featuring a variety of woods suitable for smoking. Just fire up the gun and use a bowl or pan to contain the smoke (upside down usually). Place whatever you want to smoke in the smoke and wait - 30 minutes should be enough to give you the flavor, then cook as usual.
I've had one of these for years. They work quite well, though you can replicate the effect with a cheap covered pan, a rack, and some foil.
One of its quirks is that, when hot, the sliding cover pops slightly open. If you weight it down with a filled saucepan (or a brick) as soon as you see smoke rising, an ordinary kitchen exhaust should be all you need. I use it indoors over two burners of my gas stove. This will never produce a dangerous amount of smoke, or ruin you furniture, WHEN USED AS INTENDED.
As you note, this isn't an actual smoker. You are, essentially, cooking with smoke scented steam. The smoke will flavour your food, and you can cook pretty well anything that could cook in a closed pot with a bit of steam. And I do mean anything: protein, vegetables, etc. Think of it as a portable oven.
What I would never do again is try to use it as a real smoker. It simply doesn't work, and the food gets dried out and really quite bad. I figured I could make a hot smoked salmon, but I was very wrong. However, a nicely smoke scented steam cooked salmon, using some vermouth in the bottom tray, was excellent.
I've been using one for over six years. It works great. It is a smoker. Dry heat. There is no liquid and therefore no steam.
The Camorons has four stainless steel parts: the pan where proprietary “wood chips” are placed by the tablespoon; a drip tray that rests over the wood chips; a rack that holds the product to be smoked; and a cover that slides tightly over the pan to seal in the smoke. The smoker comes with a sampling of wood chips and the company, Camerons, makes nine varieties—from Alder (for salmon) to Oak (for sausage). Very little smoke escapes the pan when fired on top of the stove due to the special cut of the wood chips, which are so fine that they should be called wood dust. It is not a BBQ because the wood chips burn off in 20 minutes, max. Enough time to nicely smoke a salmon fillet or a tray full of tomato halves.
I haven't used mine without a vent. Our old vent, maybe 300cfm, worked well enough. Our new hood and vent is much larger and works even better.
In a pinch for some smokey flavor- Liquid Smoke. (it's made from real smoke)
Food Network Food Science had a seg on Liquid Smoke and the majority couldn't taste the difference between ribs cooked with Liquid Smoke.